New Jersey tops the nation for potential developments in so-called Opportunity Zones. Of the 8,000 such locations across the country, created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the state has 169. The program offers tax breaks to those who invest, build, and create jobs in low-income and economically distressed areas.
But the tax incentive program has its critics. “I’m deeply skeptical about the policy, mainly because I’m worried that it’s targeting areas with these tax incentives which are already attracting a lot of investment,” said Timothy Weaver, assistant professor of political science at SUNY Albany. He added that “…to think that by helping the real estate industry you’re helping poor people in poor neighborhoods is really pie in the sky.”
Others say that loopholes have allowed nearly a fifth of the zones to be placed in wealthier areas. The Trump National Golf Club in Pine Hill doesn’t qualify for the tax breaks, but new development on it would qualify. Aware of the criticism, the state argues the area away from the golf club is “highly distressed.”
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